Podcast Episode November 13, 2023

Episode 91 | Fishnet Mesh Base Layers

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This episode of the Backpacking Light Podcast is sponsored by BRYNJE, manufacturer of premium fishnet (open mesh) base layer apparel made with Schoeller polycolon and merino wool. Backpacking Light podcast listeners can enjoy 10% off with the coupon code BPL10 at brynjeusa.com.



In today’s episode of the Backpacking Light podcast we’re going to talk about fishnet base layers and the Swedish ideal of lagom.
a close up of the back of a blue mesh fabric

In this Episode:

What’s New at Backpacking Light?

Interview with Jeff Jacobs of Brynje USA

Our guest this week is Jeff Jacobs of Brynje USA. Jeff’s dad was an Olympic nordic ski racer at the Oslo Olympics 1952, and at the time became enamored with the Scandinavian idea that a mesh, or fishnet-style base layer, was the optimal fabric design for wearing next to your skin in cold conditions during high exertion activities. Mr. Jacobs started importing Norwegian fishnet base layers to the United States, and his son, Jeff, picked up the torch and expanded the market through Brynje’s USA division. Jeff joins me today where we talk about the fundamental design of Brynje fishnet, the role of fiber types, and how fishnet is incorporated into layering systems for both cold and warm weather hiking and backpacking.

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Home Forums Episode 91 | Fishnet Mesh Base Layers

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 25 total)
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    Backpacking Light


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Companion forum thread to: Episode 91 | Fishnet Mesh Base Layers

    In episode 91 of the Backpacking Light podcast we’re going to talk about fishnet base layers and the Swedish ideal of lagom.

    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    Two questions I have for our community (obviously separate questions on separate topics):

    1. In the context of lagom, what other “philosophies” or “ideas” have you learned about from other cultures that you apply to either your backcountry style or general lifestyle?

    2. In the context of fishnet base layers, what is your preferred way you use them with other layers, and in what environmental conditions?

    Tjaard Breeuwer
    BPL Member


    Locale: Minnesota, USA

    Ryan, how do you find the odor resistance of the synthetic Brynje?
    I have used both Brynje and Castelli wool mesh layers until now, figuring that the mesh would mostly mitigate the drawbacks of wool(slow drying), like the anecdote about the cotton mesh baselayers.

    But, if the odor resistance is good, it might be time to switch.

    Tjaard Breeuwer
    BPL Member


    Locale: Minnesota, USA

    Oh and to answer question 2:

    I wear the mesh baselayer underneath a shell, for active wear in cold weather. If that is not warm enough, o add Pt Alpha Direct.

    Doing this allows maximum breathability and minimal moisture build up. The biggest advantage is being able to go from wet, windy, and shaded, to calm and sunny conditions and adapt easily by opening and closing venting of my shell (big torso vents, sleeve cuffs, hood/collar, double front zipper.

    I use this for mild conditions (45 F and light rain a few weeks ago backpacking), cold conditions (couple degrees below freezing, and very cold temps.


    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    I think Schoeller may have cracked the nut when it comes to polypropylene odor resistance. Brynje polypropylene since about 2017 or 2018 is Schoeller Polycolon. I’ve worn my Brynje base layers made with this fiber for up to about 7 days at a time with minimal to no odor. When I notice “minimal” odor, I give it a rinse / quick hand wash and it dries fast (as polypropylene does).

    I do think merino or alpaca will go longer than Polycolon without odor but putting Polycolon in a mesh, where there’s not a lot of surface area for odor-causing bacteria to grow anyways, probably helps.

    Except for skin-feel (which is hard to notice in a mesh layer), I’m not sure I see a compelling reason to opt for Brynje mesh in the merino version.

    Terran Terran
    BPL Member


    Fabric filters your sweat. Polypropylene is a better filter and collects the stink.

    Daniel L
    BPL Member


    I just picked up a Brynje for the first time a month ago and have been experimenting with different layers while backpacking and jogging. So far the mesh and a snug-fitting mid-weight polyester base layer over the top has been most comfortable in temps down to the mid 20s while active, with a wind shirt depending on conditions, but I’m still playing around with combinations. I also want to try layering alpha direct or Mountain Hardwear airmesh once it gets colder in the midwest.

    Ryan, what was the Finetrack layer you mentioned on the podcast?

    Tjaard Breeuwer
    BPL Member


    Locale: Minnesota, USA

    Thanks Ryan,

    7 days is plenty for me, and like you said, since PP can be rinsed so easily, it probably ends up being less smelly in most situations.

    And I agree, I love the soft feel of the Merino mesh when I touch it with my hands, but I don’t really think I’ll notice a difference when wearing, like you said.

    So lighter, faster drying, cheaper and moth proof, seems like a win to me.

    Tjaard Breeuwer
    BPL Member


    Locale: Minnesota, USA

    For those looking to layer another shirt to layer over the fishnet mesh,

    Gorewear has a lightweight (mostly) polypro crew neck shirt, in bother with and black:



    Although earlier tests seem to indicate baselayer dry time is mostly determined by fabric weight, having PP as the main fabric helps create a lightweight shirt, and the low hydrophobicity should still help a little bit.

    David D
    BPL Member


    Does the Brynje unisex polypro mesh long sleeve fit true to size?

    I plan to use it in very cold weather under a Lifa (light and tight).

    Albin Zuccato
    BPL Member


    I start in inverted order:

    2) As I have a hard time to tolerate wool in direct contact with my body I am using mostly poly fabrics on the upper body. The Bryne is awsome during my winter bike commutes. Bike commuting is hard on any garnment as one adds some sweet in the morning and then let it cool down (optimal for the bacterial growth) just to add more sweet in the evening. I have one for each day with consideration to my fellow bikers. Meaning even they start to smell a bit after some usage cycles. However, I am sometimes forced to use one for several days, being hiking and not able to wash them in the weekend. With rinsing this worked for 3 days until I gave in and went washing the rest. Third day was too hard on my nose ;-) .

    When I hike during winter I am also using the Bryne as it has an incredible warmth with a wool or fleece (with the risk of a serious stink there) shirt over it. I must admit that I do not get why one would use it with a normal lifa – take that directly on the skin would be my guess. During hiking in winter I can easily go 2-3 days without doing much. This as the great thing is that here in Sweden I take of the Bryne and let it “freeze”dry over night as it contains so little water that it does not freeze solid for me and without the risk of bacterial grow (pretty sure all bacterias are dead in the morning). I realy do not like to sleep with it as it is uncomfortable for me when lying on it and I full embrace the concept of sleeping cloths in the winter.

    1) On the principle of “lagom” (I really do not think you should call it a philosophy) I think it is heavily interwined witht the Swedish mentality. Not being a born Swede I must admit that even after more then 2 decades I only partially get it. What I most like is the pragmatic approach of doing the necessary thing for oneself to be satisfied. That means it is a relative principle for anyone to come to the point of heapiness.

    For example “äta lagom” can mean eating a lot when hungrig or little/nothing when not. But it means eating that amount that gives you what you need at that time. And if one eats so much that one is a bit “full” because but one needs the mental kick after a long and demanding day – then this was “lagom” at that time while on another day one would complain of having eaten too much.

    Which brings me to the simple answer – I always try to make my hikes “lagom”. It is among the most relaxing activities I know. But it does not mean that I am not tiered, sometimes dirty or even temporarily unpleasant/cold/wet/… . But I am always satisfied while doing i and in the end! Lagom trött men mycket nöjd.

    David D
    BPL Member


    >I must admit that I do not get why one would use it with a normal lifa

    Tight and light.  Lifa fits tight to trap air in the mesh for warmth.  Lifa is light so that it doesn’t hold much condensation from the the vapor that passes through the mesh.

    I’d of course throw a mid layer over it and a shell.  I’m aiming for 10F and lower in this combo but would push it higher if it works.

    Eric Kammerer
    BPL Member


    Wu wei is one concept that can be applied to backpacking — especially lightweight backpacking. I like the definition of “effortless action”, not the more common “inaction”, or the legalistic uses.

    I started with fishnet in the 70s, and continued until it was no longer available. Even in cotton, it is remarkably effective.

    I remember when “wicking” was the hot new thing. It didn’t work for me then and never has since. Fundamentally, the phase-change from direct evaporation will cool much more effectively than placing an insulator between you and the evaporation. If it works more effectively, it reduces the water you lose to sweat, reducing dehydration, improving physical performance, and providing more flexibility around how much water you need to carry.

    I’ve used both the merino and the PP versions of Brynje and prefer the PP. The merino will shrink which can become a problem, since the garment is close fitting. I had to stop using the shirt on one trip after wearing holes in my skin around the armholes.

    I wear the shirt year-round, finding it cools better than anything else. However, I found in the 70s that fishnet does not provide sun protection and can lead to some interesting sunburns.

    On one training hike, I got caught in an unexpected downpour that completely soaked my windshirt. I could tell exactly where the fishnet ended by the skin temperature — notably colder where there was no fishnet.

    I haven’t used the lower layers. It has to be really cold for me to want something on my legs. However, I do have both short and long-sleeved shirts, and may eventually gets something for the legs — I find myself getting colder as I get older.

    Terran Terran
    BPL Member


    Brynje. My new favorite beanie. Moreno with a poly mesh.  It has 2 seams running front to back for a better fit. Not too loose, not too tight. Very light and pretty warm. The poly mesh , if it’s the same used in the shirts, has smaller holes than the wool.

    I also ordered a long sleeve merino top with inlays. It’s thicker than I imagined. I was on the edge of large/extra large and chose extra large, so it’s not a really snug fit. It worked well with just a loose t-shirt. With a tighter t-shirt, I could feel the mesh digging in just slightly. The neck felt a little tight, especially with a tighter shirt over it.  After a few tugs, it’s loosened up. It  doesn’t feel delicate like it would easily snag. I wouldn’t bushwhack in it alone. The price was hard to take, but I’d buy it again. I’ll probably get a second one.
    Shipping took 5 days with good tracking. That leads me to another order from A of A. My last order took a week. Not bad. Their tracking is a nightmare. It’s not updated at all. I didn’t know it was shipped until I received it.  They want you to download the “Shop” app which is annoying and worthless. Not to downplay the product itself. It’s good quality, comfortable and warm. I believe there’s truth to the claims about hollow fiber. I don’t get as hot when the temperature rises. Moisture management? I have the 250 leggings with a 300 half zip top coming still.

    I might as well throw in my socks. From the Buffalo Wool Company. Bison fiber. They do have elastic running around the upper inside which can snag on rough feet. I usually use a silk blend liner. Dry fast, soft, they can go for a few days if necessary without feeling crusty or stinking. Much nicer than regular wool IMO.


    Bryan Taylor
    BPL Member


    I notice that the recommended Brynje shirt link points to the short sleeve version. The BPL review is also of the short sleeve version. I’m curious whether you prefer the long or short sleeve? And does anyone find they mostly use the long sleeve in summer or the short sleeve in winter?

    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    I’ve been using the sleeveless for both winter and summer. I don’t think I’ll go back to even the short sleeve. I like less unrestricted movement in the shoulders/arms.

    Nicholas P
    BPL Member


    Locale: Acadia National Park


    I just stumbled across this sleeveless base layer It’s using a combination of alpha direct around the core and stretch mesh side and lower panels. It looks interesting and also it’s on sale.

    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    That is interesting! A long sleeve Brynje under that alpha sleeveless shirt would be an interesting combo.

    Charlie Brenneman
    BPL Member


    Locale: Primarily Desolation Wilderness, Yosemite, and SEKI

    Anyone try either of these models by Craft?

    https://www.craftsports.us/products/mens-cool-mesh-superlight-sleeveless or


    I don’t currently get out much to winter hike (hoping to start this year and make more attempts moving forward) but I do run in cool/cold temps everyday. Think these would be great to replace the poly T-shirt I use below my other layer(s).

    Terran Terran
    BPL Member


    I’d say the long sleeve XL Brynje merino fits true to size. For me, the XL is a loose fit. I find a tight shirt with long sleeves restricting more so than a loose one. Long sleeve can be more difficult to layer over. Too many sleeves twisting and turning. I’m wearing it today with a down vest and a light insulated jacket. 24* out and it’s very comfortable. A sleeveless shirt over the top might be a choice in warmer weather.

    I’m trying the Brynje poly leggings with 250 Alpaca. I find them more comfortable with the Alpaca underneath. I’m trapping warm air and letting moisture our either way. I wonder what the difference will be.

    Chad V
    BPL Member


    There’s some interesting discussion here! I am new to BPL and thought I’d jump into this thread. I live in Utah, am a year-round runner and especially enjoy snowshoe running in the mountains. I ran a 25k snowshoe running race last January and wore (on top) just a Brynje wool Thermo LS shirt with a short sleeve woven merino t-shirt over it. This was a pretty good combo and I stayed warm in the 20 degree (F) range despite lots of sweating. The outer shirt was fairly wet at the end of the race so this winter I want to try a different outer layer that will vent better and not wet out.

    I thought I heard Jeff Jacobs say on the podcast that he sometimes doubles up on Brynje mesh shirts with no other layers. I am intrigued since this would seem to be a pretty good venting system while also providing a bit more warmth (and modesty!) than just a single layer alone. Has anyone tried this while doing high intensity winter sports?

    Terran Terran
    BPL Member


    Much less active.  Brynje over Brynje sounds fairly warm and a bit like salesmanship. While it may work fairly well, it sounds somewhat imperfect depending on how the holes lined up with warm spots and cold spots. Jumping on the alpha direct trend ordering from Vado on GGG, 90GSM. The 2 together,   I feel is more uniform with better coverage. From other reviews, it shouldn’t soak up sweat like wool does. It doesn’t appear near as fragile as I feared.

    Tjaard Breeuwer
    BPL Member


    Locale: Minnesota, USA

    Well, I really tested my Brynje Polypropylene layers recently.

    I was doing a multi day hut to hut ski touring trip in Switzerland.
    I wore my Brynje Polypro for 5 days straight, with a lot of sweating, and it smelled fine. Even the fourth night, in a guesthouse (not hut) restaurant, so surrounded by people who put on clean clothes every day ;-).

    I also find the Super thermo very comfortable and soft against the skin.

    Besides odor resistance, I also really tested  the moisture management. I mostly wore it under a Neoair shell jacket and dermizax shell pants.
    Due to rapidly changing conditions, and the fact that you are wearing a pack, I was not always able to adjust my layers optimally, and would end up sweating for a while, followed by much colder, windier Conditions moments later. I was never overly cold from wetness.

    And at night too, with all other base layers, once I am done for the day, at home or in a hut, I usually get chilled, even if they don’t feel damp, and with very thin base layers. Not so with this one.

    The final test was our last ski day in Switzerland:

    We ended up lift served skiing on the Gemstock, which has 5000’ vertical. Due to falling a lot in the deep powder, I kept my shells fully zipped up. I also made a mistake in my estimation of the conditions, and so I started the day with the Brynje long underpants, and Polartec alpha and Brynje mesh on top, under my shell pants and jacket. It turned out, that was way warmer than needed, so I was sweating like crazy. Mid day I managed to take those extra layers off, ending with nothing on my legs, and just the Brynje on top, underneath my shell pant and jacket.

    The lower half of the mountain was in the sun, and quite warm, so, while working hard skiing, I’d work up a tremendous sweat. Then, we’d reach the bottom and stand around, waiting for the tram, then ride 2 trams to the top. A total of about 45 minutes of standing still.

    Emerging at the top, it was many degrees colder, and we were in the fog, so damp, and much more wind. Yet, I was merely cool, not freezing like I would have been in any other baselayer after sweat speaking it and then standing still for that long.

    Repeating this throughout the day had the same result every time.




    Tjaard Breeuwer
    BPL Member


    Locale: Minnesota, USA

    I do have criticism for the garment design:

    The cuffs are wide and knitted. So is the collar on the zip neck. The wrist cuffs especially are an area that gets sweaty and doesn’t dry well. It would be much better to have a simple edge binding like on the bottom hem.

    The neck should be fishnet just like the rest of the garment.

    The women’s shirt, and all bottoms, have “privacy panels” of solid fabric on the chest and crotch.

    We don’t need that. Women wear (sports)bras under their tops, and everyone wears underpants underneath their baselayer bottoms, so there is no see through there anyway. In fact, because of this, those are exactly the areas where fishnet would be of the greatest benefit, to allow maximum drying of the layers underneath.

    And then there is the fit. The torso is super long. Even for me (I’m tall). Of course, better too long than too short, but still, at least cut the front hem a bit shorter, humans don’t bend backwards.

    And then there is the fit. If ever there was a fabric suited to skin tight fits, this would be it. Yet, this is merely a “trim” fit, not skin tight.

    And finally, the sleeves are too short.

    Tjaard Breeuwer
    BPL Member


    Locale: Minnesota, USA

    @Chad V

    I have occasionally layered my short and long sleeve Brynje Super thermo shorts on top of each other.
    Works well, although I have not tried it super often.

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